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Low End Computers (4/8/1985)

something has gone horribly wrong 8-p
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A consumer's guide to the most popular low-cost home computers.

Guests: Jack Tramiel, Atari; Leonard Tramiel, Atari; Frank Leonardi, Commodore; Gary Kildall, Digital Research

Products/Demos: Commodore Laptop, Commodore 128, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST 512


This movie is part of the collection: Computer Chronicles

Keywords: Episode year: 1985


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LowEndCo1985.mpeg 1.1 GB 
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Average Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars4.25 out of 5 stars4.25 out of 5 stars4.25 out of 5 stars4.25 out of 5 stars

Reviewer: FroggyMe6581 - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - July 3, 2012
Subject: Jack Tramiel! Atari ST!
This is quite possibly my favorite Computer Chronicles episode. It is a pleasure to see the Tramiels, and I love how the episode centers around them. The Atari ST was one of the greatest computers ever, and the true heir to the C64, not the Amiga (though the C128 is pretty dang great too). The Amiga is awesome, but the ST was "for the masses, not the classes." It's a really interesting and convoluted history that Atari was actually supposed to get the Amiga, until Jack bought Atari, and Commodore managed to buy Amiga. Jack brought a bunch of ex-Commodore engineers with him and they developed the ST. So the ST is actually a Commodore computer, and the Amiga was actually supposed to be sold by Atari. If that investor idiot hadn't kicked Jack out of Commodore, the "best computer ever" war would've been between the Commodore ST and the Atari Amiga, instead.

To the reviewer claiming the C64 was anemic and over-hyped: while the demonstrations of the C64 in this video are of quite interesting uses, it is by no means showing off the magnitude of the capabilities of the C64. When it came out, it had 1.5 times the memory of an Apple ][ for a quarter the cost. And by the end of the lifespan of the C64 in the early 90s, developers and hackers were able to squeeze amazing power out of the machine beyond what the original system engineers could have ever dreamed it being capable. Even today, there is a large homebrew scene taking the C64 way beyond what any other 8-bit machine is capable. I mean, C64 demos vs Apple ][ demos? Don't make me laugh; no contest.

I really enjoyed the users group segment. And isn't it amazing that that one guy's observation that Apple products are underpowered and overpriced still holds true today? Haha, that guy made the show! The unveiling of the ST really drives that home: a COLOR GUI for a third of the cost of a Macintosh. This was a computer so advanced it is still used today as a MIDI controller.

I watched to see Jack and Leonard, as they are both heroes of mine, and Jack just passed away :(. I can see that Gary Kildall is pleased with the ST, considering it's his OS, GEM, on there :) The ST is still used modernly with a flavor of Linux sitting on top of TOS.

Reviewer: CW6 - 3.00 out of 5 stars3.00 out of 5 stars3.00 out of 5 stars - June 25, 2007
Subject: Looking at the Commodore segment
Reminded me how overhyped the C64 was in terms of its capabilities. The BASIC was terribly anemic; it had the slowest disk access of any computer I've ever used; sprites? *yawn*; SID chip - good, but not a good enough reason to buy a computer. Apples, Ataris, and CoCos were historically a far better value. I'd take a 512K CoCo 3 running OS-9 any day over a Commodore 128.

As for "wiggling windows," keep in mind that in 1985, GUIs were still mostly unheard of even on high-end machines, and rare as hen's teeth on low-end personal computers. The (fairly expensive) Macintosh - introduced just a year earlier - was most people's first exposure to windows, mice, and the like.

Reviewer: saundby - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - February 25, 2006
Subject: Turning Point Episode
This is a great episode showing the home industry during a turning point. It shows a just-post Tramiel Commodore that has no clue about what its own products are (the C128 is described as being "as good as" an Apple IIc) and Tramiel trying to make the ST out to be all things to all people while his lump of a son wiggles a window on a screen to "show off" the new system for the viewing audience (I'm sure there was a briefing beforehand: Careful, Leonard, don't actually try to do anything or it might crash on camera!) By comparison some nice shots of the C128 seeming to do things are shown, but from tape.

The Amiga is mentioned briefly, but it wasn't ready to be shown. The C128 and the never-released Commodore LCD are displayed nicely. Some nice shots of the C64 production line as well.

A great episode for some insight into the management of Commodore and Atari at this time.

Reviewer: tom_sparks - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - July 24, 2005
Subject: Low End Computers
has nonething to do with commodore amiga
downloaded and saw no amiga demos